Letter from the Sixth Regiment
Camp near Fredericksburg
Eds. Sentinel:-There can be no impropriety in giving a few items of information to you readers as to the condition of affairs in Gen. King's old brigade, though since I last wrote from our old camp at Arlington, persons writing to the public journals have been obliged to exercise a good deal of caution on regard to the character of their communications. No patriotic editor however would admit into his paper anything calculated to reveal the movements of our troops at an untimely date. I have nothing to write that will affect the great cause. I trust to in the least injure it. Our brigade has done its share of the maneuvering of the Grand Army, and is now rusticating on the Romantic border of Potomac Creek, an inlet of the great river Potomac, and about five miles from the city of Fredericksburg, engaged in rebuilding railroad bridge burned by the rebels in their retreat.-
There is no complaint in the Sixth Regiment against the present arrangements of the commander, and but little in the brigade though some were silly enough to write to some of the papers at home condemning Col. Cutler for some of our sounder marches. they have discovered that he acted under orders himself-a fact of which they seemed altogether ignorant at first. col. Sweet, now in command of this regiment seems to possess the good will and confidence of all, both officers and men and seems as much at home as Lieut. Colonel in command as he was when Major while the regiment improves as fast at the present time perhaps as it did at anytime since its organization.
Gen. King preserves the quiet well-bread republican manner he always had in Milwaukee. I saw him once last winter at a reception at the White House in the centre of a brilliant circle of the elite of the Capitol, the same graceful gentleman he is a home. More modest and unassuming in his deportment than many Lieutenants in his command there is something about him that places all near him at ease without an effort.
The people who at first seemed disposed against us in the region hereabouts are now throwing off their reserve and quietly going on with their agricultural pursuits, though the Spring thus far has been backward and wet.
the Harris Light Cavalry attached to our brigade fell into a rebel ambuscade on the march out, and lost eleven killed and twenty-three wounded, but the treacherous wretches soon broke at the approach of the infantry and artillery and crossing the Rappahannock, burned the bridges behind them.
I would like to made public an act of cold inhumanity which was perpetrated in a company of our regiment lately. A colored boy came into the camp hare-footed and ragged stating that he had left a cruel master, who kept him all winter without shoes and treated him all winter with out shoes and treated him cruelly in other respects. Some of the men of the Prairie du Chien company took the little fellow in their charge intending to clothe and feed him until he could be other wise cared for the captain and Leut. Harris ordered him out of the company at once and threatened with severe punishment the man who should at tempt to shelter him. One of the men then went to Capt. Noyer of Co. A who kindly took the boy in his care, and supplied his wants.
all this transaction can be well proved by various persons in the several companies of the regiment who were eye-witnesses of the atrocious act of turning out a child of ten years in a place where, if caught by his unnatural master nothing could save him from a brutal and barbarous flogging such as a Western farmer would be ashamed to inflict on his horse.
Let me here add that all this took place without the knowledge of Col. Sweet, or any other officer in command; and I wish also to state that a fierce spirit of oppression rules toward certain individuals in the Prairie du Chien company which would long since have squelched out the last remnant of their dignity and manhood if it had not been repressed by Colonels Cutler and Sweet.
I make these statement advisedly and am willing to bear all the consequences of the act satisfied that an impartial examination will establish the truth of all I have written and much more.
Yours truly U. M. W.
From the Sixth Regiment
Camp opposite Fredericksburg, Va.
Messrs. Editors:-This Sabbath has been a day of rest to most of us on the Rappahannock, with the exception of Sunday morning inspection, and the detail of three hundred men, who are at work on the railroad bridge, across that beautiful river. It has been the most quiet Sabbath that we have enjoyed since we took up our line of march from Arlington Heights. This bridge was to have been finished and the engine was to cross over to the city to day. It only lacks the laying down of a few more rails, a little bracing, and this structure, that is five hundred feet long and sixty feet high, will be ready for the ears, and we shall be ready once more to be in pursuit of the enemy. the destruction of bridges and other property has been the only way in which the valiant southerners have yet attempted to fight us; but I presume they will soon get tired of this mode of warfare as they begin to find out that as they burn and destroy the mud-stills and greasy mechanics of the North can build up. The two large bridges that were destroyed between this place and Acquia Creek are finished, and the "bullgine," as the boys call it, came up to this bridge this morning, to the surprise of the citizens of this ancient burg. Its appearance brought out a good remark from a colored man that was standing near; he said that "it took our folks four years to build dat dar bridge, and do Yankee soldiers am come along and built one in a week."
this simple expression created a good laugh and a "bully for you old hoss," from the Yankee boys.
A week ago to day there was a skirmish about two miles from us and in full view of our camp just as parade was dismissed. Capt. Wood aid to Gen. gibbons, came into camp with orders for our Grigade to fall in, the long roll was beaten, and in ten minutes the brigade was in line and ready for the order to move on to action; but to our sorrow and disappointment, secesh again fell back, as they have always done since this part of the army has been after them.- Capt.. Miller, of the rebel army came into our lines to day with a flag of truce, but for what purpose I have not heard. He rode through our lines blind folded between two mounted commissioned officers. and two files of infantry. He was a young man of very fine appearance. His entrance into the city caused quite an excitement amongst the sympathizers of rebellion, in fact; never before since I have been in the Old dominion have I seen so much sympathy manifested as I witnessed this afternoon; boys running along the side-walks cheering for Jeff. Davis, and ladies praying that God would bless that southern soldier, and exclaiming-Oh, I love to see that gray uniform once more, and so on. It made my blood boil to be obliged to listen to such blasphemous language. The women here, I am sorry to say, are ten times worse than the men.-I was in the city yesterday standing on the sidewalk talking with Lieut. t. c. T . beneath the stars and stripes that were floating in the breeze from a window when about eight or ten ladies came walking down the street, and seeing that beautiful flag that had once been their pride and boast they turned away in disgust and walked in the middle of the street.-that was more than we could stand and Lieut. T. said by --we won't stand that, and to day we have not only one but seven flags floating in the breeze-right across the street, so that they must either walk under the stars and stripes, or go around a whole square to avoid them. Poor dear ladies, I pity them for their zeal without knowledge-they have their sister's prayer meeting often for poor Jeff. If our sisters in the north are as zealous and prayerful for the cause of justice and right, and for our glorious Union, as our sisters in the south are for rebellion and disunion, we shall be well satisfied. There is one thing that we are will sure of, that their prayers are an abomination to the lord; but I hope that the time is not far distant when they will see their folly and sin, and return again to their allegiance. In walking around the cemetery to day I counted ninety-four soldiers graves in one row and about half that number in another row, they were from Tenn., Arkansas, Texas, N. C. and Va., in all , I was told that in the different burying places in the city, about nine hundred and seven soldiers had been buried. OH, how many hearts have been made to bleed through this unholy rebellion. An order has just been brought into camp for all those who are not fit for immediate duty to be sent to Alexandria tomorrow morning at nine o'clock. I understand that H. A. Lee, Corporal Jones W. B. Ryder and W. Groat will be sent form Co. A. since my last Col. Cutler has taken command of the regiment and Gen. Gibbons, of the U.S.A. has taken command of this brigade. This brigade now wear the regulation hat with a black feather, with shoes and white leggings, which give it a beautiful appearance. We are the advance of this side of the river, being only about five hundred yards from the city. Before you receive this I presume that we shall be nearer Richmond than we now are, and if the rebels, dispute the ground you will hear a good account of this brigade, as its discipline is equal to any in the service, and as the men have great confidence in their officers thy will fight to the last. If any thing happens that I think will be of interest to your readers you will hear from.
Fredericksburg, Va., May 21st, 1862
We have been in the vicinity of Fredericksburg over two weeks, our being the second Brigade to occupy. Major Gen. McDowell's department of the Rappahannock. thus you will see that we are not in the rear of the advancing column in this department. the first Brigade of King's division took peaceable possession of this point where the rebels had promised to make a stand, and to fight till their last drop of blood should drench the soil of Virginia, and color the water of that beautiful river. But, alas, how treacherous the promises of the wicked! The first sound of the clattering hoof of "Yankee" Cavalry put them to flight, and the torch of the incendiary applied to the bridge marked the course of the retreating enemy.
Immediately on our arrival at this place we were set to work repairing the railroad bridges and track between here and Acquia Creek which the enemy had destroyed in their retreat, among them were two very extensive bridges which have been completed and the road in running order so that we get our supplies by railroad to this place. Our forces have built a new railroad bridge across the river at this place, and the cars crossed on Tuesday for the first time, we have also laid one pontoon bridge, and constructed another of canal boats so that every thing in nearly ready for our army to push on again. Could the fault finders of the North have an opportunity of knowing how many obstacles are placed in the way of the advance of our armies I think they would not think the advance of our armies I think they would not think the advance of our troops was "so slow" Even we soldiers claim to be human beings and must have transportation and thus far we have been obliged to build our own roads and construct our own bridges. It is slow work but according to all accounts it has been sure! Our advance into the heart of the old dominion goes to prove all this-gradually repulsing the enemy before us without the loss of a single man.
Fredericksburg is rather an ancient looking city of about five thousand inhabitants situated on the south side of the Rappahannock river in a beautiful valley surrounded on either side by romantic hills and beautiful scenery. Its inhabitants are mostly colored a few old hoary headed white men, rosy cheeked damsels (all in their sweet sixteenth), they all think were "right smart looking fellows and were right good clothes but they can't become reconciled to that name "Yankee." Kind indulgence and gentle words will soon have the girls of Fredericksburg all right on the Union question --"we reckon!"
the victory is won when we get the Virginia women all right as we have generally found them to be the most ardent admirers of Jeff's confederacy, otherwise the masses of the men wouldn't know enough to go to the battlefield!
This morning in company with Lieut. M. we took a stroll through the city visiting the different places of interest viewing each corner with "Yankee" curiosity, and were much pleased with the ways and to us oddities of the people of this country-the ways actions, and tastes being as widely at variance with us of the North as ours with the Aborigines. Among the many places that claimed our attention was the burial place of "Mary the mother of George Washington, the father of our country." Here the visitor will behold the most vile atrocities ever committed by the hand of man, here the most sacred spot-second only to the resting place of her noble sun at Mount Vernon- known to the American people the dastardly rebels took occasion to vent their spleen upon the nation and government of which she was the mother and her son George the father! The slab which marked her resting place had been converted into a target, and slang epithets marked upon it, the shrubbery which decorated the mound destroyed, and the walk which surrounded it half torn down, and worst of all dead traitors buried along side of her. for perpetrators of such deeds of atrocity we can but believe that the gulf of damnation stands yawning for their reception, and we earnestly hope that pandemonium may not be cheated out of it mercy!
The Christian Banner, of which I send you a copy appeared on the 9th of may, after a suppression of just one year, to day by the order of Jefferson D. It is a spicy little sheet and will do good work in waking the people of Virginia up to a sense of their duty. Long may it wave.
The strictest discipline prevails in the army of this department, and the citizens, are protected in all their rights and property, and thus far our forces have made a good impression on the minds of all. Wherever depredations have been committed on persons or property, the perpetrators have been severely punished.
the health of this army is excellent as far as we have any knowledge. We have endured a great deal of hardship since we left the Potomac but the men have stood it nobly and seem determined to keep up good courage and show the rebels that we too, are going to have a little fun with then if we can catch them. the succession of victories which has crowed our arms in all directions has not failed to exercise a good effect of the soldiers of this department, and we trust will inspire them to deeds of little daring when we are permitted to renew our onward march!
The weather is fine every thing bids fair for a speedy settlement of this rebellion, and no men will hail the day with more pleasure than the men in the field.
Our Brigade has been supplied with a new Brigadier General in the person of Gen. Gibbons a regular officer he is a middle aged man and a good officer and we trust will fill the position with credit to himself and the Government.
My letter is somewhat lengthy and I will close hoping to deliver our nest letter in person.